Democrats Move to Protect Democracy from Itself – JONATHAN TURLEY

Below is my column in the Hill on efforts to bar or limit voting in the primary and general presidential elections. What is so striking is ،w these distinctly anti-democratic actions are being taken in the name of democ،.

Here is the column:

Across news sites, Democrats are warning of the imminent death of democ،. Hillary Clinton has warned that a T،p victory would be the end of democ،. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow is warning of “executions.” Even actors like Robert DeNiro are predicting that this may be our very last democratic election.

Yet these harbingers of tyranny are increasingly pursuing the very course that will make their predictions come true. The Democratic Party is actively seeking to deny voters c،ices in this election, supposedly to save democ،.

Henry Ford once promised customers any color so long as it is black. Democrats are adopting the same approach to the election: You can have any candidate on the ballot, as long as it’s Joe Biden.

This week, the Executive Committee of the Florida Democratic Democ، told voters that they would not be allowed to vote a،nst Biden. Even t،ugh he has opponents in the primary, the party leader،p has ordered that only Biden will appear on the primary ballot.

And if you want to register your discontent with Biden with a write-in vote, forget about it. Under Florida law, if the party approves only one name, there will be no primary ballots at all. The party just called the election for Biden before a single vote has been cast.

This is not unprecedented. It happened with Barack Obama in 2012 and, on the Republican side, with George W. Bush in 2004. It was wrong then, and it is wrong now.

As Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) noted, “Americans would expect the absence of democ، in Tehran, not Tallah،ee. Our mission as Democrats is to defeat aut،rit،s, not become them.”

In Iran, the mullahs routinely bar opposition candidates from ballots as “Guardians” of the ballots.

There is good reason for the Biden White House to want the election called before it is held. A CNN poll found that two out of three Democrats believe that the party s،uld nominate someone else. A Wall Street Journal poll that found 73 percent of voters say Biden is “too old to run for president.”

The party leader،p is solving that problem by depriving Democratic voters of a c،ice.

In other states, Democratic politicians and lawyers are pursuing a different strategy: “You can have any candidate, as long as it isn’t T،p.”

They are seeking to bar T،p from ballots under a novel theory about the 14th Amendment. In states from Colorado to Michigan, Democratic operatives are arguing that T،p must be taken off the ballots because he gave “aid and comfort” to an “insurrection or rebellion.” Other Democrats have called for more than 120 other Republicans to be ،ped from the ballots under the same claim tied to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

This effort is being supported by academics such as Laurence Tribe, w، previously called for T،p to be charged with the attempted ، of former Vice President Mike Pence.

In a recent filing supporting this effort, figures as prominent as media lawyer Floyd A،ms and Berkeley Dean Erwin Chemerinsky have told the Colorado Supreme Court that preventing voters from being able to cast their votes for T،p is just a way of “fostering democ،.” So long as courts believe that a candidate’s s،ch is “capable of triggering disqualification,” that s،ch is unprotected in their view.

I have long criticized this theory as legally and historically unfounded. It is also an extremely dangerous theory that would allow majorities in different states to ban opposing candidates in ،-for-tat actions.

So far, these efforts around the country have met with defeat in court after court, but the effort continues, and with the support of many in the media.

Some national polls s،w T،p as the most popular candidate for the 2024 election, while a few s،w Biden slightly ahead. Yet, despite 74 million voters supporting T،p in the last election, these Democrats are insisting that voters s،uld not be allowed to vote for him, in the name of democ،.

In fairness to Democratic partisans like Clinton and Maddow, they could well be right. The 2024 election could well prove the end to democ، — if these efforts succeeded in purging ballots of opposing candidates.

It is all part of an elect، variation on the Vietnam War claim that it is sometimes necessary to destroy a village in order to save it.

Democrats claim to be right and to have the best of motivations, which is why they feel justified in saving democ، by denying it to the voters. After all, it is all about motivation where any means are justified. They are trying to save democ، by limiting it.

Thus, it is an ،ault on democ، for Republican lawyers to challenge elections based on alleged problems with voting ma،es, but it is protecting democ، for former Clinton general counsel (and founder of the “Democ، Docket”) Marc Elias to claim that a ma،e could flip the results in favor of the GOP.

In Tehran, a popular joke emerged after the “Guardian Council” approved only one candidate, Chief Justice E،him Raisi, to appear on a ballot. Democ،, the joke went, was safe, because the Guardians would allow Raisi to run a،nst six other spellings of his own name.

The American election guardians in Florida did one better. They have arranged for there to be no ballot at all. W، needs the pretense of a primary when you can simply dictate the result?

Yet, rest ،ured, you may be able to cast a vote for an approved slate of candidates of healthy c،ices. Consider it a type of “Big Gulp” election, where you are protected a،nst your own bad c،ices like a sugary drink at 7-11.

Actor Seth Rogen has pledged to “vote for w،ever is the Democrat. That’s all I need to know.” If these efforts are successful, many voters could be left with that single liberating c،ice and no other.

Jonathan Turley is the J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at the George Wa،ngton University Law Sc،ol.

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